2012 Ironman New Orleans 70.3 errr... 67.1 Race Report


This wasn't the race that I had hoped for.  Overall I was not happy with my performance, but it was a good learning experience. I am not going to bash this race. I was hesitant coming in with some of the unknowns, but despite many of the other comments that are out there, I thought the race was well-organized.

Yes, it was changed to a duathlon format the day before and the bike course was shortened by 4 miles due to debris from the storm, but disorganized? I don't think so. The course was clearly marked, there were volunteers where volunteers needed to be (even if not precisely at the mark they said they were going to be) and there were medical and police officers in abundance. 

Overall, I did think that the race lost the charm of what the race promised to include and that is the scenery and culture of New Orleans. Finishing in the French Quarter had to have been a pretty cool way to end a race- which was originally the main draw for me to sign up. So, I was disappointed when that was moved.  There was one aid station, that on one run loop was playing traditional New Orleans jazz music and I thought that was a lot of fun while it lasted.. but it was back to Eminem and Black Eyed Peas and pretty much what you'd find at any generic tri for the rest of the race. Sigh...

Race Conditions:

If there was any question as to why they cancelled the swim, you can see my video that I took while in transition the day before the race, here:

Race management did the right thing. And, while, yes.. it was disappointing, they kept the athletes safe and that should always be their priority.

Race Morning:

I'll preface with saying that there were a lot of unknowns for me leading up to leaving for the race that proved to be very stressful.  And between the TX weather (tornadoes, rain, etc.) and dealing with being sick, things weren't really working in my favor. I'm not making excuses but, I've been thinking a lot about my state of mind and performance and have a lot to work on for my upcoming races.

My mom and daughter had traveled with me to the race and they hung out in the car watching a Disney movie while I set up transition.  I met up with my Twitter friend, @DoriSpaulding in transition, headed back to the car to get my Good Luck hugs and kisses and then met back up with Dori and her friend, Ann and ended up spending the rest of the morning with them... hanging out in bathroom lines... checking out the funky race outfits the Europeans were wearing and chatting until our 30-39 age group left two by two out on our 2 mile run to start the race. Love them both! So sweet! :)

Run #1:  2 miles

Sporting the @EpixGear Tri Kit 

This was my first duathlon!!  I honestly had no idea what to do in terms of pacing.  Run hard? Take it easy? I pretty much chose somewhere in the middle.  I dropped the girl I started with about 200 yards in and I wasn't sprinting... all I could think of was, "Am I doing this wrong?"

The run was uneventful.  Up and over an overpass to really wake up your legs, turnaround and do it again and head back to transition. The run went quickly. I had realized at the starting line that I forgotten to add water to my aerobottle. I had planned on waiting until the last minute because I was afraid that if it was too windy, it would dump out. Rookie mistake. Dug through my backpack, found the extra water bottle, dumped it in, helmet, changed to my bike shoes and was out.

One thing that was nice about the duathlon format was there was no wetsuit to strip and I already had on my sunglasses, arm warmers, race belt and Sock Guy socks ... a few less things to worry about in transition!

Bike:  52 miles

To say it was windy on the bike would be an understatement. Although forecasts said 15mph, I ride in that pretty much all the time at Texas Motor Speedway and the gusts that we had were way in excess of that.  With the headwind came a super fantastic tailwind, but if you were met with the strong gust of a crosswind and were coming down an overpass in the 30mph+ range, it didn't fare well for a lot of people. There were a lot of wrecks on the course. One gal was being loaded into an ambulance with a neck brace, several others being attended to by EMS and lots of road rash. There was a guy who passed me in the same Epix Gear tri top and he had significant bloody road rash down the side of his arm. (Major props to him, though)

Death grip on my aerobars!
At about Mile 5, as I was heading up an overpass, my right aerobar pretty much fell off.  Seriously.  If I let go, it just hung on the bar. I was climbing, getting hit by crosswinds and almost ate it because I had to try to balance on my left and steer without losing control.  Got to the top of the overpass, pulled out my multitool and had to screw both connectors back in.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my entire age group pass by.  Grumble.

I couldn't get my saddle bag to close properly, so I did a half-assed job and stopped messing with it. Not so smart.  At about Mile 30, I hit a bump and the saddle bag was left hanging by a strap.  I stopped again and for the life of me couldn't get it back on. I wanted to chuck it at that point, but I still had 20+ miles to go and with the luck I was having, figured I would flat and need it. I tried tying the straps in a knot.  Finally got it on after about a hundred more people passed me.  At this point I think mentally my wheels fell off. The wind was beating me up and I was in a bad mood from my bad luck. It didn't help either that I did not want to eat- at all.  I choked down one package of Clif Shot Blocks over the entire ride and drank some Gatorade and water.

(Side Note: To the guy who was wearing the banana hammock on the bike... I don't care how fast you are. An extra half yard of spandex will not slow you down. Your hairy posterior is something I could live with never seeing again and the mental image will likely haunt my future dreams.)

Run:  13.1 miles

My right calf had a twitch in it coming out of transition, so I stopped to stretch it out for about 10-20 seconds and then continued on.  By mile 3, I was checking out the grass thinking there were some pretty comfortable places to lay down and take a nap.  Seriously.  All I wanted to do was sleep. Bonk much?

But, I wanted to be done and not finishing was not an option.  In typical fashion, I actually felt better between miles 7-10. I'm pretty sure I saw Dori a couple of times on the course and Ann was just a bit behind me and was closing in fast.  She skipped herself to the finish line- both her and Dori had total rockstar finishes.  Me... not so much. I ran about 15 minutes slower than my last half ironman.  Sure, I was in the final stages of training for a full at that point, but I know I am capable of running faster. 


I finally got to see my mom and daughter as I rounded the corner to the finish and it was a much needed boost and made me smile- unfortunately they had missed me out on the course on both loops of the run.  They were the reason I was ready to be done. As I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch and hung my head.  Totally disappointed in myself. There was a guy who grabbed me at the end who asked me very seriously if I was okay. Guess I wasn't as gleefully happy as others to finish.  I passed on the red beans and rice being served and went for the oranges and strawberries.  Checked my bike out of transition and then we got the heck out of the city.

I know things could have been worse. I am thankful I didn't crash. I'm thankful I finished. I am thankful for being healthy enough to compete in a sport that I am passionate about and that I have a full schedule of racing ahead of me for this summer.  It just wasn't the race I had hoped for.

But, we headed for Orange Beach, AL which was about 3 1/2 hours away... and well... life was better.

Thanks for reading! :)


Christi said...

I am so sorry you did not have the race you wanted. I am sure your next one will rock! I really don't know why they don't change the date for NO. I think it has been a duathlon for several years now.

Thanks for the banana hammock visual. I will have to bleach my eyes or something for that to go away!

Jason said...

We already exchanged text messages on this but you are still a rockstar in my book for finishing under such dire circumstances.

There are pros that would have thrown in the towel because things weren't go right but you didn't. You hung tough and proved what an Ironman really is.

Congrats to you my friend.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a tough one! I had a swim canceled a couple years back and it was hard to really care about doing it as a Duathlon. Probably the worst race I've ever had.

Ps. I will be your wrench at BSLT and make sure you have no repeats of the aero-bar incident!

Jillian said...

Congrats on finishing strong! It wasn't the race I was hoping for either but still made the best of it. Was also my first duathlon as well. Unfortunately I too wasn't a very gleeful finisher. On the bike it was kinda sketchy at the tops of the bridges and overpasses but I managed not to crash. Good luck the rest of the season!

CarolynB said...

You still rock for doing it despite all the "bad luck" and setbacks. Finishing the race in it's altered state, all in one piece, is something to be proud of.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I think its an impressive performance, alot happened leading up to the race, the uncertainity of the weather, what the race will actually be. Alot of people would have quit, you didnt. You might not see it now, but that race will pay dividends later in the season, other races will feel easier because of what you went through on that day, just file this one under mental toughness. Congrats on the finish

Unknown said...

That finish picture makes me so sad. Shannon, you are a fighter and should never be disappointed in finishing a race like you did. Remember that... you are strong! :)

Annabelle said...

So glad I got to meet you! I'll have to keep track of your race schedule to see if we can meet up again!

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